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Reading and literacy in the information society

César Coll (

Chair in Developmental Psychology and Education at the University of Barcelona


Despite the discourses that announced the end of reading and the death of the reader, there are reasons to believe that reading is once again going to be one of the fundamental instruments for communicating, thinking, learning and making sense of our own and others experiences in the information society. However, there also a few doubts as to this new scenario and as to the control over digital information and communication technologies and electronic texts. Important changes are being seen in the definition of the text, author, reader, and practices and modes of reading. The concept itself of literacy, of being able to read and write in a written culture, is undergoing a process of change and transformation. On the one hand, the concept of literacy is expanding and, alongside literacy in relation to the literate culture, other literacies are taking shape in terms of the technological culture and the other characteristic elements of the information society. On the other hand, together with this expansion or enlargement of the concept, a transformation is taking place in terms of what is meant and what is required by literacy in the literate culture. Internet and electronic texts modify the basic elements involved in the reading and understanding processes. However, the emergence of new literacies, and new knowledge and skills that require literacy of electronic texts, also inevitably bring with them the risk of the corresponding illiteracy. This risk is increased when the reality in which these literacy needs are seen is still marked by serious failings in terms of the ability to read and write and their practice in wide sections of the population.


literacy, reading, new literacies, information society, electronic text

Published in: September 2005

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